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St. Vincent Healthcare Announces Level I Trauma Center Plan; Expands Lifesaving Services in the Air and on the Ground

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In an emergency, time matters. St. Vincent Healthcare, now part of Intermountain Health, is committed to ensuring Montanans and Wyomingites have quick access to the critical, lifesaving care they need when they need it most.  

St. Vincent is proud to provide the highest level of trauma care in the state of Montana. In fact, according to the most recent State of Montana Trauma Registry data, for two years in a row, more patients trusted St. Vincent with their trauma care than any other trauma center in Montana.  

"To us, that speaks volumes, and we couldn't be more humbled by the level of confidence our friends and neighbors have in us," said Barry McKenzie, MD, trauma surgeon and trauma medical director at St. Vincent. "As a top-level trauma center, we continuously seek ways to elevate the quality of care we provide." 

That's why, in August of last year, St. Vincent chose to become the first hospital in Montana to officially apply for Level I Trauma Center verification under the American College of Surgeons (ACS), with a goal of becoming the State of Montana's very first Comprehensive Trauma Center in early 2024. 

St. Vincent is currently in the review process from the ACS and anticipates the results of the review at the end of 2023. 

A Level I Trauma Center has to have the following available 24 hours a day, every day of the week: 

  • Specialists in neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery and other disciplines 
  • Well-trained nurses and physicians who have experience in trauma care 
  • Surgery and anesthesia at a moment's notice 

"We know there is an opportunity for us to continue to enhance and expand the trauma and emergency services we provide. The decision to apply for Level I Trauma is about providing the best care to our community in our community, whenever possible, keeping our patients close to home and continuing to be the hospital of choice," shared Jen Alderfer, president, St. Vincent Healthcare and Montana |Wyoming Market for Intermountain Health.  

In addition to pursuing a Trauma Level I verification, St. Vincent is expanding emergency air and ground transport services in Montana and Wyoming to improve access to care and patient outcomes. 

St. Vincent is excited to announce a new inter-facility ground ambulance service that will provide transport between facilities in Montana and Wyoming. Beginning this month, the service helps meet a critical need that many rural healthcare organizations are experiencing due to stretched EMS (Emergency Medical Services) resources in their local communities. 


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"Our local EMS providers do the very best they can to respond to emergencies in our community, and this service will help them remain focused on responding to those 9-1-1 calls," explained Dr. Michael Bush, Chief Medical Officer at Holy Rosary Healthcare in Miles City, a critical access hospital serving eastern Montana. "Sometimes, it's determined that our patients need higher acuity, more specialized care. It is paramount that we can provide them with a swift transport so they can receive the care they need." 

Additionally, Cody Regional Health and St. Vincent have partnered to launch Wyoming's only hospital-owned flight program: First Flight of Wyoming. This joint venture flight program will serve the needs of the Greater Wyoming Basin Region with high-quality, cost-effective transport services. Cody Regional Health operates the largest EMS network in Northern Wyoming, while St. Vincent Healthcare has operated HELP Flight, an air medical transport program, for over 40 years.  

"With the recent closures of EMS services and the high costs of air medical transport, we feel that the establishment of an air medical flight program located in the Big Horn Basin will provide a lower cost and a higher quality of care to patients in Northern Wyoming," said Doug McMillan, Cody Regional Health CEO. "St. Vincent's longstanding HELP Flight program was a pioneer in air medical services and continues to be at the forefront of hospital-based flight services, making them the ideal partner for this joint venture endeavor." 

First Flight of Wyoming will launch this summer with its rotor wing aircraft. 

To continue to support the growth of these services, the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation's annual SAINTS fundraiser on October 7, 2023 will support St. Vincent Healthcare's emergency and trauma services. Funds raised will be used to support education, research, and lifesaving equipment to ensure that our community has access to the region's highest quality emergency health care. St. Vincent benefactors have long supported advancements in the emergency, trauma, and critical care fields, including investments in the HELP Flight program, Emergency Room enhancements, ICU renovations, stroke care, cardiovascular programs, and pediatric ICU and surgical programs. Learn more at svfoundation.org.  

St. Vincent Healthcare has a long legacy of faithfully serving the Billings-area and region for nearly 125 years.  

"From our humble beginnings as Billings' first hospital back in 1898, with a mission to care for the community and serve the poor and vulnerable to becoming an innovative, nationally ranked hospital for safety and quality, today's announcements are just a few of the many ways St. Vincent remains committed to creating a healthier community and helping to ensure Montanans and Wyomingites can receive high quality, lifesaving care close to home," Alderfer concluded. 

To learn more about St. Vincent Healthcare's Emergency and Trauma Services, visit svh.org/trauma